The difficulty with Professor William James is that he lumps his "higher powers" and "higher power" into one bin–a receptacle which includes discussions of inspiration, being an instrument, receiving openings, and access by subliminal doors. And, in discussing experiences with these phenomena, James further pumps hypnotism, "suggestion," "diabolical possession," "hystero-demonopathy," "prophecy," and "levitation" into his wide-ranging analysis. It is safe to say, I believe, that William James was not confining his discussion of "higher power" to Yahweh, our Creator.
The result of the William James influence on Sam Shoemaker and on Bill Wilson, for me, seems to require my having to listen–one hundred years later–to AAs both in California and in Hawaii talking about a "higher power," "spiritualism," "spirituality," the Eleventh Step, and "sexual fantasies" all in one breath. And they most assuredly do, which is precisely what I believe can happen when you "open" your mind to the intrusion of compromise and spiritual wickedness into a Bible-based recovery program. And, to quote Lois Wilson, in the interest of a "universal spiritual program." Would that the Wilsons had heeded the favorite early A.A. Book of James. James 4:7 states: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." I believe the early influences of Professor James on A.A. were definitely corrupting and did stimulate resistance to their devilish impact. Again, quoting the Book of James: "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:16). Now, one website moderator who specifically excludes all such writing, including mine, from her A.A. "history" website would call such remarks "preaching." I call them quoting! AAs read the Book of James far more than they read William James. They even wanted to call the Fellowship The James Club–not meaning the good professor.
The more AAs have listened to the revisionists in the last fifty years, the farther the program has moved from the Bible to its present "any god," "not-god," and "something" idol worship. One of the many new gods appearing in revisionist literature is that the "higher power" is simply that which gets you sober. Disulfiram (Antabuse)? Naltrexone (ReVia)? Acupuncture? Hypnosis? Therapy? Forced attendance? Meetings? Service? A "group" of drunks? A lightbulb? (And see Clarence Snyder. My Higher Power the Lightbulb. Florida: Steve Foreman, 1982). One new writer on the scene says this:
Belief in something transcendental–a "higher power," outside of the individual–is part of the program, and prayer and meditation are seen as the principal means of conscious contact with this "higher power." The idea is not so much to pray to God for help in finding a way out of an alcohol problem; it has more to do with humility–"cleaning house" so that the "grace of God can enter us and expel the obsession." . . . . AAs Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions stresses that AA does not demand belief in anything" (Anne M. Fletcher. Sober for Good. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001, pp. 240-41).
My, oh my! Whatever happened to Dr. Bob’s assurance that "Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!"
Elwood Worcester, Samuel McComb, and Isador H. Coriat
Now among the things which seem to tell against faith in the infinite goodness of the Power which this universe discloses are the facts of pain and disease. . . . But if the order of nature is the expression of the Divine Will it follows that God wills health, that He means his creatures to be healthy, and that He is opposed to pain, disease, abnormality of every kind, just as He is opposed to sin and vice (Elwood Worcester, Samuel McComb, Isador H. Coriat. Religion and Medicine: The Moral Control of Nervous Disorders. New York: Moffat, Yard & Company, 1908, p. 292).
However man first became aware of a Spirit behind or within this universe, he has been aware of it, and he has felt that in this Infinite Spirit he lives and that on this Spirit his life and salvation depend. Not only has man been conscious of his dependence on a higher Power, but also he has sought to bring himseslf more and more into harmonious relations with this Power, and his desire goes forth in prayer. In a sense prayer is man’s language with God (Worcester, etc., Religion and Medicine, supra, p. 304, bold face added).
A diligent, researching, AA, named Cliff M., called the Religion and Medicine citation to my attention, for which I thank him. The three Religion and Medicine authors rejected Christian Science and other New Thought ideas and quoted much from the Bible to support the idea that God is and has the "Power" to heal man and keep him healthy. For them and probably for the Emmanuel Movement of which they wrote, God was the "higher" "Power" upon which they sought to rely for treatment. And that is the concept that Bill Wilson spelled out on pages 43, 45, and 46 of the Third Edition of the Big Book when Bill spoke of a "Higher Power," said he was going to talk about "God," and then defined the "Power" as "God." Quite a difference from his writing in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions where readers were invited to consider the option that this "higher power" could be the "group." That particular nonsense sent me spinning for months in an A.A. Step Meeting until my mind really began to heal and clear. Yet it has become doctrinal these days in many a meeting room.
Victor C. Kitchen
The re-direction of old desires and substitution for old stimuli has extended not only throughout my sensual life, but into my social and intellectual life as well. It enters into all of my thinking and into all of my dealings with other people. When, for instance, I only thought about God–when He existed only in my mind as a belief–I could reach Him only as an intellectual conclusion. I concluded that there must be some Higher Power to account for all the things taking place in space much as scientists concluded that there must be an atom to account for all the things taking place in physics (Victor C. Kitchen. I Was a Pagan. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1934, p. 85, bold face added).